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1825 Unit 2» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Flaw in the 2-player game? rss

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Tucker Taylor
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Disclaimer: I'm a nigh-complete 18xx n00b. My experience is limited to two plays of Poseidon, one two-player play of 1825 U2 (currently available from Northumbria, or at least it was a couple of weeks ago), and scouring the 18xx mailing list and the BGG forums for info on 1825.

Having said that, I've encountered what looks to me like a flaw in 2-player 1825 U2.

The scenario goes like this:

Player A: L&Mid private.
Player B: C&HP private.

A buys the S&D private.
(B has higher private income. If A passes, then B passes and we're right back where we started only B has caught up slightly to A. Similar logic applies to B buying the L&Man.)
B buys the L&Man private.

A buys the director's certificate of LNWR.
Alternate buying LNWR until...
B buys the ninth LNWR share (eighth LNWR certificate).
A passes.

At this point there's one LNWR share/cert left.
A holds L&Mid, S&D, 5 LNWR, $510. Income $30 + 5*LNWR.
B holds C&HP, L&Man, 4 LNWR, $515. Income $42 + 4*LNWR.

What can B do in this situation?

If B buys the last LNWR, A gets the director's share of Midlands. They buy out Midlands at a 6-4 split in A's favor, and A is shortly making more money than B, while constantly retaining LNWR dividends to use it as a train farm for later railroads. (I'm disregarding NER as it seems that it'll take forever to make any revenue, and B can't float it without help or more cash.)

On the other hand, if B passes, he makes more money than A on the first OR, but A has a higher profit potential, and B has the same choice next SDR. Eventually A's revenue catches up with the additional LNWR share.

It seems that A has no incentive to take the last LNWR share, and neither option seems good for B.

What am I missing?

("Buy U3 instead," ha ha, I would if copies weren't lovingly hand-carved out of unobtanium.)
 
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Kevin Whitmore
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I've never played U2 as 2-player game. So you can take whatever I have to say with a grain of salt.

It may be that you're right and there is some disadvantage to one of the players. However, just because the second player was forced to buy LNWR initially, does not mean he needs to continue to hold that stock. Look for an opportunity, sell the stock you need to, and open a new company where you are the Director.

It's been a while since I looked at this game. I know you will have to cope with the structured order of which companies are available. But my recollection was that U2 was better than U1 at opening up more options more quickly. U1 is very processional.

I'm fond of this system. I hope the 2-p game will work for you. But if not, get a third!
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Eric Brosius
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Many people claim U2 is a great 2-player game. I'm sure they've considered this question, so with any luck they'll post answers in this thread. (I don't know the answer myself.)
 
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Mikko Saari
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In my opinion LNWR is not a very good company, because the 10-value home base will hurt the dividend payouts a lot. It's easy to get stuck in track building, leaving LNWR crippled.

NER is not very good, but not completely hopeless either. Once you get it running, it can get decent routes.
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Ian Scrivins
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JazzFish wrote:
What can B do in this situation?


If it were me, I would pass and take the higher income in OR1.

JazzFish wrote:
B has the same choice next SDR.


If A passes at the start of the next SR, I would buy the last LNWR share and allow A to take the MR directorship. Then once the MR was sold out I would sell sufficient shares to start my own company. L&YR is a good one.

JazzFish wrote:
...constantly retaining LNWR dividends to use it as a train farm for later railroads.


That's a very poor idea as A will lose more than B. 1825 is about running companies well.

JazzFish wrote:
What am I missing?


The Midland is a good company, but it's not a game winner by itself.
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Dave Berry
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A related question would be how to avoid getting into this situation in the next game. I haven't played competitive 2-player games of Unit 2, so this is purely speculative, but if Player B doesn't buy any LNWR shares at all, then Player A will have to buy 6 shares in order to float it. If I've done my sums right (which is always a big 'if') then Player A could only afford 4 Midland shares even if Player B buys all the remaining LNWR shares. So this tactic would guarantee Player B the directorship of the Midland.

Player A might buy more LNWR shares (up to 80%), but it could be argued that Player B would benefit from having more, cheaper shares that provide more income.

As an aside, I use a house rule that in the NER's first turn, it may lay a free tile on its home hex before its usual tile lay(s). This speeds up its development somewhat.
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Tucker Taylor
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Kevin and Ian (and Mikko): thanks! I wasn't thinking in terms of selling off LNWR so early. I'll try that next time.

Kevin_Whitmore wrote:
my recollection was that U2 was better than U1 at opening up more options more quickly. U1 is very processional.


Yeah, that was part of why I grabbed U2 instead of U1 (ISTR finding some store online that had U1 a couple of weeks ago, although I can't see where it was now). That and I'm generally playing with fewer players rather than more, and by all reports U2 is better with fewer players.

Kevin_Whitmore wrote:
I'm fond of this system. I hope the 2-p game will work for you. But if not, get a third!


heh. Still looking...

iansc wrote:
JazzFish wrote:
...constantly retaining LNWR dividends to use it as a train farm for later railroads.


That's a very poor idea as A will lose more than B. 1825 is about running companies well.


I wasn't clear; I was thinking specifically if the 5/5 stock split remains, so that they're both losing the same amount of money. Although of course as soon as that starts happening B ought to sell off LNWR and buy something else.

daveberry wrote:
A related question would be how to avoid getting into this situation in the next game.


Fair enough! I'm new enough that I'm still thinking in terms of the advice in the rulebook, paraphrased as "in the first SDR, if there's something you can buy, do so."

daveberry wrote:
As an aside, I use a house rule that in the NER's first turn, it may lay a free tile on its home hex before its usual tile lay(s). This speeds up its development somewhat.


That sounds pretty reasonable, at least in U2 by itself (it looks like if U3 is added NER has more nearby possibilities). May have to try that.

 
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Kevin Whitmore
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JazzFish wrote:
Kevin and Ian (and Mikko): thanks! I wasn't thinking in terms of selling off LNWR so early. I'll try that next time.

Kevin_Whitmore wrote:
my recollection was that U2 was better than U1 at opening up more options more quickly. U1 is very processional.


Yeah, that was part of why I grabbed U2 instead of U1 (ISTR finding some store online that had U1 a couple of weeks ago, although I can't see where it was now). That and I'm generally playing with fewer players rather than more, and by all reports U2 is better with fewer players.


I will just add this - Unit 1 is a key part of the system. I personally believe it to brilliant when hooked to Unit 2. It's just as a stand alone that I have issues with it.

We played U1 once as a stand alone, and players who were used to 1830 chaffed at the strict order of companies being offered. When we started adding U2, the choices were more plentiful and came much quicker. This made the game system a lot more palatable to my group. But we typically have 4 players, which is a reasonable number for a U1+U2 game.
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